"DO YE EVEN SO TO THEM."
"All things whatsoever ye would that men should
do to you, do ye even so to them."--Matt. 7:12.
WHATEVER THE TESTS we apply, Jesus and his teachings are seen to tower above all others. For instance, we are frequently told that the Golden Rule is found in the writings of Confucius as well as in the New Testament, and that this is a proof that Confucius was a teacher equal in rank with Jesus, and equally sent of God. And no doubt many of those who give this report do so in all honesty; for the fact is that many Christians have never seen the depth and scope of the Golden Rule given by Jesus, and misunderstand it to be the same as the maxim by Confucius, which much resembles it. There is a wide distinction, however, and in comparison the words of Confucius might be termed a brazen rule. His maxim is, "Do not do to others what you would not wish them to do to you." We repeat that this is as much as the majority of Christians have ever seen in the Golden Rule given by our Lord.
We would be glad to see the maxim of Confucius received and acted upon throughout the whole world by every creature, and undoubtedly the result would be a great blessing to mankind--a great improvement over present conditions, in which almost everybody except the saints who seek to walk in the footsteps of the Lord are continually doing every day the very things which they would not wish their neighbors to do to them. But even tho so great a reformation could be brought about, it would still leave much to be desired; it would still leave the world far from the condition suggested by our Lord's prayer, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven." For men might, through policy or for other reasons, deal justly with each other, refraining from the doing of such things as they would not wish done to them, and with all that their hearts might be very full of selfishness, meanness, covetousness, etc., and very far from the condition of love.
But when we note the comprehensiveness of our Lord's Golden Rule, we find it is absolutely a love-rule; and that it leaves nothing to be desired: nothing could possibly be added to it; it is complete. It is not merely a negative law: "Thou shalt not" do an injury; it is a positive law: "Thou shalt" do good. Thou shalt do thy neighbor all the good, all the kindness, all the service, that thou wouldst have him do to thee. This law, which the Apostle calls "the law of liberty," the perfect law, this Golden Rule for life, has no parallel anywhere, in any writings, and could not possibly have a superior,--a grander sentiment could not possibly be expressed. But how few there are who rightly appreciate and love this rule, and use it daily in the measurement of their own conduct! As already noted, the majority, even of the best people in the world, the vast majority of Christians, fail to discern its lengths and its breadths, and consider it merely an injunction not to do injury to others. How few, then, joyfully and appreciatively grasp its sentiment, and seek from the heart to conform their lives thereto-- none but the saints, none but the "elect," we may be sure, are thus in heart-harmony with the essence and spirit of their Heavenly Father's law of Love.
There might be danger of some of the Lord's people using this rule amiss and to their injury, by being overgenerous toward others and not sufficiently careful of themselves; but such instances are very rare, because in our entire race the general result of the fall has been to crowd out love and benevolence, and to fill us with selfishness. So much is this the case that it has become a worldly proverb that "Self-preservation is the first rule of life;" that self is always to be number one, and to be cared for well and thoroughly before others are to be even considered.
Even after we have been begotten of the holy spirit, as new creatures, after the transforming of our minds has begun, we all know from experience that the selfishness of the old nature is so deep-grained that it is likely to hold its own with us to the very end of life. We have, however, known of some who, in their desire to conform themselves fully to the Lord's will, have taken an extreme view of this Golden Rule, and have understood it as tho it said, "Thou shalt do to thy neighbor as he shall wish thee to do to him"--not noticing that this would be a very different rule, and one which might operate very unfavorably in every way. While few are in danger of making a mistake in this direction, many are inclined to reason on the matter from this standpoint, and to say: We could not possibly carry out this Golden Rule in the ordinary affairs of life, because, for instance, if I were to do to my neighbor as I should wish him to do to me, I should sell him a five-dollar pair of shoes for one dollar; or a twenty-dollar suit of clothes for five dollars; or what he might want of wheat or oats at half the usual price. And if I adopted such a rule with one, I should properly adopt it with all, and this would soon mean bankruptcy in my business; so, evidently, the Golden Rule cannot be used in human affairs at the present time.
But we answer that this is a mistaken view of the Golden Rule, and whoever examines it should see that the difficulty probably lies in the selfishness of his own heart. He thinks his neighbor might expect goods at less than cost, because he thinks that he himself would be willing to receive goods at less than cost from his neighbor. The application of the Golden Rule should show him his difficulty; should teach him [R2688 : page 262] the lesson that when he goes to his neighbor to buy shoes he must do to his neighbor as he would that his neighbor should do to him: he must pay his neighbor a reasonable price for his shoes; a reasonable, living profit. And likewise in every other transaction: the Golden Rule teaches us that we should be willing to pay the farmer for his produce, and the manufacturer for his, as we would think just if we were the manufacturer and making the sale. Likewise, if we were making the sale, we should not think of charging our customers a larger profit than we would think reasonable if they were the sellers and we the customers. Whoever of the Lord's people, therefore, gets thoroughly into the way of using this Golden Rule in all of life's affairs will certainly find that it will elevate their conceptions of justice, righteousness, equity; and these godlike qualities will become more and more developed in them, as parts of their characters, until they will obey them not merely because of their harmony with the Master's Golden Rule, but because they will recognize their true beauty and grandeur, and because their hearts will be in harmony with them.
But this rule, while thus inculcating justice, goes beyond this and inculcates benevolence;--such benevolence and so much of it as we, with properly balanced minds would be disposed to ask of others if we were the ones in need, in straits. O how grandly rounded out in spiritual character would all of the Lord's true saints become, under the influence of this Golden Rule! It would not only affect the actions of life, making them first just toward all with whom they had dealings, then, benevolently disposed toward all needing their assistance to whatever degree they were able to render assistance without doing injury to others,--and, additionally, the same law in force would extend also to their every word. Under the regulations of this golden measurement how few bitter or angry or slanderous words would be used--for how few would like to have others use such to or of them--to speak to them in anger and with bitterness and rancor, or to slander them. No wonder the Apostle tells us that those who have put on Christ must put off all these--anger, malice, hatred, strife, envy, slanders, etc. Additionally, this Golden Rule would lead to kind words, gentle actions, considerate demeanor; for who would not wish such from his neighbor? As the Apostle again declares, we are to put on as Christian graces,--gentleness, meekness, patience, longsuffering, brotherly kindness, love.--Col. 3:8-10,12-15.
This Golden Rule, beginning with the outward actions, and progressing to our words, would very quickly extend to our thoughts; and as we would not wish to have others think ungenerously or meanly of us, nor put a bad construction on our every act of life, but would rather that they would view our words and deeds generously and lovingly, so we in turn would [R2689 : page 262] find, that under the influence of this Golden Rule, our thoughts of others would become more generous, more noble, less suspicious, etc.
This Golden Rule is assuredly the divine law which our dear Redeemer expressed in other words at another time, saying, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." We may safely consider, therefore, that the one rule interprets the other, and that to love our neighbor as ourselves signifies that we should love him and do for him as we ourselves would wish him to love us and to do for us. And we could not understand it to mean more than this. God expects of us that we will make reasonable provision for ourselves and for those for whom, by legal or natural ties, we are responsible--our families, our relatives, as the Apostle says: "He that provideth not for his own, and especially they of his own house, hath denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."--1 Tim. 5:8.
Evidently, therefore, our own households are our first charge and responsibility, and must have reasonable attention before we could hope to do for our neighbors. This would indeed be putting a difference between our neighbor and ourselves, and between our neighbor's family and our own family, but the matter is well adjusted by the Golden Rule, rightly interpreted, which requires of us that we shall do for our neighbor, in his want and extremity, as we would have him do for us, were we in his circumstances and he in ours. And our minds being leveled up to a plane of justice, we should expect that if we were in distress our neighbor would first make reasonable provision for his own family, and not give to us to the injury or deprivation of those more immediately and more closely dependent upon him.
IS THE GOLDEN RULE INCUMBENT?
But some one may inquire: Is it necessary for us as Christians to attempt to carry out this Golden Rule in our daily lives? When we see that very few even of Christian people appreciate the rule, or to any extent seek to carry it out, may we not consider that it is a very good rule, but that its observance is not made incumbent upon us, and that our attainment of eternal life and heavenly glory are not linked with the observance of this Golden Rule? May we not consider it rather as a good standard to have in mind as the perfect law, but consider that we are not to live up to that standard in any sense of the word?
We answer that this Golden Rule was the one by which our dear Redeemer's every action was measured, the one according to which he lived, and under [R2689 : page 263] which he laid down his life on our behalf, and it is essential to and incumbent upon all those who would be his disciples, his followers. All who hope to become his joint-heirs in the Kingdom are required to walk in his footsteps as he set us an example (1 Pet. 2:21), or, as another Apostle declares, God has foreordained to have an elect Church to be joint-heirs in the Kingdom with Christ, but he has equally foreordained that none shall ultimately be acceptable as members of that glorified Church except such as shall, in the present life, become copies of God's dear Son, our Lord Jesus: and to copy him means to copy the Golden Rule, which was exemplified in him and in his course. It follows, therefore, that whoever expects to share the Kingdom must give diligence to the formation of character, and that this Golden Rule is necessary in such formation of character--to develop in us not the principles of equity, or justice only, but also the spirit of love, of unselfishly doing good to others.--Rom. 8:29.
DIVINE STRENGTH PERFECTED IN HUMAN WEAKNESS.
But here again comes in the question, How can those who by nature are fallen and imperfect, and full of inherited selfishness and meanness, ever hope to keep this Golden Rule, which is the full measure of a perfect man's obedience, and which, with all his well-doing and sacrificing, was not more than fulfilled by our Lord Jesus himself? How could we hope to be approved as keepers of this Golden Rule, in the sight of him who can read, not only the outward conduct, but also the thoughts and intents of our hearts?
We answer that here comes to our relief the gracious arrangement which God has provided for this Gospel age, viz., justification by faith. Our justification not only covers "the sins that are past" (Rom. 3:25), and makes us acceptable to God in Christ, so that we can offer ourselves as living sacrifices upon his altar, but, more than this, it stands with us all the way down the journey of life, and according to God's grace in Christ it compensates for, or makes up for us all of our unintentional deficiencies, so that, as the Apostle says, "The righteousness of the Law [expressed in the Golden Rule] is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit." --Rom. 8:4.
Since we are not all alike fallen, not all alike selfish, it follows that some walk much nearer to the spirit of the divine Law, attain much closer to the measurement required by the Golden Rule, than can others; yet no fallen creature can walk fully up to the requirements of the Golden Rule, so long as handicapped by the various weaknesses of the flesh: and here the grace of God in Christ makes up our deficiencies; those who are able to follow the pattern most closely are still far from following it absolutely, and consequently need to have the merit of the precious blood of Christ imputed to them to make up for their shortcomings; and those who are still more fallen, and who, with their very best efforts, are still further from measuring up to the grand standard of the Golden Rule, need that much more of God's grace to compensate for their deficiencies. Hence the Apostle declares that where sin and imperfection abound the most, there God's grace correspondingly abounds the more; so that to those who are in Christ and seek to walk in his footsteps, who are in their hearts measuring themselves with the Golden Rule, and seeking to the best of their ability to live up to its requirements, may be succeeding variously in their endeavors, from the worldly standpoint; but from the divine standpoint all such are reckoned as having their blemishes fully covered with the merit of our dear Redeemer's sacrifice, and that therefore the righteousness of the Law, its true meaning, its spirit, and the true measure of the Golden Rule, is reckoned as fulfilled in them to divine acceptance,--perfectly.
But it is not merely to have this Golden Rule thus reckonedly fulfilled in us for a day or for a week or for a month that counts us "overcomers," but that we shall faithfully continue to walk as closely in the Lord's footsteps as we may be able, faithfully continuing to use his Golden Rule to the best of our ability; and that we shall do this day by day and year by year with continued and increasing zeal, until our Master, watching the process of development of character, shall say, It is enough; the character is fixed; the love for righteousness is permanent and thoroughly developed; the spirit of love is indelibly marked, and altho there still remain in the flesh traces of selfishness, yet they are dim and faint in comparison with the original mark, and give good evidence of victory gained, not in the flesh, but in the heart, in the will.
"They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."--Mal. 3:17.
ANOTHER SERIOUS ERROR MADE BY SOME IN APPLYING
THE GOLDEN RULE TO LIFE.
Undoubtedly the Golden Rule has, to a considerable extent, exercised an influence over even worldly people (nominal Christians), where such have come more in contact with the true saints who endeavor with more or less zeal to recognize and to use the Golden Rule in the measurement of their daily conduct, without their being keepers of it as a rule, or even professing so to do. And even amongst Christians who have given themselves to the Lord, and who fully desire that his will in every particular shall be done in them, [R2689 : page 264] and who recognize this Golden Rule as a grand expression of the divine will, we believe there are serious misapprehensions respecting the proper manner of its use. For instance, among the noblest of the Lord's people are some who say, We will turn our backs on society and worldly enjoyments, and devote what time we have at our disposal to the improvement of the fallen--to moral reforms, social reforms, financial reforms, the reforming of drunkards, etc. And still others, imbued with the same spirit, and with the same desire to fulfil this Golden Rule, say, We will leave home and friends, and go into far-off lands as missionaries, to preach Christ to the heathen.
We are bound to appreciate such noble sentiments, whether we can agree with the conclusions as to methods of work, etc., or not. We love the noble principle which, if not in every instance, at least in many cases, lies at the foundation of such sacrifices of time, influence, convenience, etc.: it is an outworking of the Golden Rule in these dear friends, saying to themselves and to others, If we were in the slums or in heathen degradation, we should wish that some of God's children would come to us, to lift us up and enlighten us, and hence we should do so to others, even as we would, if our conditions were altered, that they should do to us.
This is sound reasoning and a proper application of the Golden Rule, and yet also, we believe, a mistaken or wrong one. One of the first lessons that the Christian is called upon to learn in the School of Christ is, that his judgment is defective; that not only our physical powers have degenerated through the fall, but that likewise our mental powers have suffered; so that the whole world today is not only unsound of body, but also unsound of mind, unsound of judgment. [R2690 : page 264] The primary lessons of God's children in the school of Christ are to the effect that we all lack wisdom, and that for this very reason he has provided his Book, the Bible,--"that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished."--2 Tim. 3:16,17.
We are taught in the Book that the work of salvation is one too great for humanity itself, and that therefore God has undertaken the work; we are taught that he has not left the matter to operate itself at random, neither has he left it to our imperfect judgments and puny efforts: we are taught that the great Savior of the world planned his work "from the foundation of the world," and yet that it was four thousand years and more before he took the first great step for its accomplishment, namely, the giving of his Son to be the redemption price of Adam and his race (1 Pet. 1:20); we are taught that having begun this work of salvation God has not abandoned it, and does not intend to abandon it, but that eventually "he shall bring forth judgment [trial] unto victory;"--and that eventually our Lord Jesus shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul on man's behalf, and shall be satisfied;-- that eventually the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, and all shall know him from the least to the greatest; that eventually he shall bring in everlasting righteousness, so that the time shall ultimately come when all the families of the earth shall be blessed with the knowledge of God's goodness and grace, and with an opportunity to benefit thereby; that eventually whosoever will not obey the great Prophet-King shall be cut off from amongst the people in the Second Death; that eventually there shall be no more dying, no more sighing, no more crying, no more pain there, because the former things of Adamic sin and its penalty and blight shall have been done away.--Isa. 14:24,27; 55:11; Matt. 12:20; Isa. 53:11; 11:9; Jer. 31:34; Acts 3:19-23; Rev. 21:3,4.
But many of God's dear people overlook these gracious provisions and promises of his Word, and partaking to a considerable extent of the spirit of love they forget that God's love is still greater than their own, even as God's wisdom is greater than theirs; hence they lose sight of the fact that the entire plan of salvation is of God, and that he has not abandoned it to others, but will carry it out himself in his own due time. It is because they forget this that they become burdened with the weight of responsibility, and feel as tho the salvation of the world rested upon themselves,--and, impressed with this feeling of self-importance and forgetfulness of God's Word, they go into the mission work, slum work, and to the heathen. They forget, and are greatly disadvantaged by so doing, that God has already declared, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my plans higher than your plans, and my ways higher than your ways."--Isa. 55:8,9.
As a consequence of this oversight and misdirection of effort, these dear friends are doing works now which God intends shall be done in a future age, and which can and will be done then to very much better advantage every way. God has appointed the Millennial age for this work of lifting up the weak, opening the blind eyes of the barbarians, and unstopping their dull ears to hear the message of divine grace. God has appointed that when his time for this great work, in which he is more interested than any of his creatures possibly could be, will come, the conditions will be favorable to the success of his plan, which he guarantees us will succeed, and will bring blessing to all the families of the earth, and will enlighten every man born into the world.--Gal. 3:16,29; John 1:9; Acts 3:19-21.
God's Word informs those who seek his counsel, [R2690 : page 265] that at that time Satan shall be bound so that he may deceive the nations no more, as he is now doing (Rev. 20:1-3): that during that period of Satan's restraint those whom he now blinds (2 Cor. 4:4) with various false doctrines, sophistries, superstitions, etc., will be freed from these, and have the eyes and ears of their understanding opened. It informs us also, that at that time he will establish as the King over all the earth his honored agent, who gave his life as a ransom for mankind; and that our Lord Jesus will establish the Kingdom of God amongst men, a Kingdom not merely in name, but also in power and in fact; one which shall rule the world, forcibly putting down sin, oppression, ignorance, superstition, darkness; and raising up righteousness, truth, and every good principle and influence for the blessing and uplifting of those whom he purchased with his precious blood. It informs us that under his beneficent reign all evil shall be subdued, that even death shall be conquered: and that all mankind, freed from the Adamic sentence of death, may, if they will, then attain unto eternal life and full human perfection, and that only the wilful sinners against light and opportunity will be utterly destroyed in the Second Death.--1 Cor. 15:24-28; 2 Thess. 1:8,9; Acts 3:23.
The same Word instructs us that the Lord's plan for the present age does not purpose the conversion of the world; nor its salvation in any sense of the word; nor its uplifting; but that his plan, on the contrary, is simply the development of the Church, the foreordained and predestinated number, a "little flock," who must all be selected from amongst men, and every one of them be copies of God's dear Son. (Rom. 8:29.) It also informs us that this work of God in this age is the work in which we are invited to be co-workers together with God. It points out to us that this is the work of the Bride--to make herself ready for the marriage (Rev. 19:7); that the special work in this present time consists not only in the "calling" of the Church, but also in the building up of one another, among the called ones, in the most holy faith;--helping one another to perfect holiness in the reverence of the Lord,--showing us that a large part of our work is in our own hearts, cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, helping one another to make our calling and our election sure, by perfecting in our hearts the Golden Rule.--2 Cor. 7:1; Jude 20.
But overlooking the particular service marked out for those who would be co-workers with God in this age, our dear friends, now criticised, misuse their Golden Rule, by applying it outside of the class for which the Lord intended it in this age. It will be applicable to all the heathen world and the sub-stratum of society in the Millennial age, but now it is applicable chiefly to the household of faith. True, if we could accomplish all that the Lord would have us accomplish for the household of faith, it would then be very proper for us to extend our efforts to the heathen and lower strata of society, rather than to sit down in idleness; but so far from finding that we have not enough to engage our time in the household of faith, we find that we are in the harvest-time of the age, and that the harvest is great and the laborers are few, and that there is much more than enough to engage all our time and energies among the "brethren" whom the Lord our God has called. Hence the Golden Rule calls us to be exercised chiefly amongst these, and not amongst those whom the Lord our God has not yet called, but who are left, in the divine plan, for a calling and blessing of another kind in the next age--the Millennial age.
Looking back we see that our dear Master, who gave the Golden Rule, observed it in the manner we are now advocating. Living in the end of the Jewish age, and knowing that the divine favors and blessings at that time were confined to fleshly Israel, our Lord, with a full appreciation of the Golden Rule, nevertheless used it in strict harmony with the Father's plan; and accordingly instructed his twelve apostles also, saying, "Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; for I am not sent save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt. 10:5,6; 15:24,26.) Likewise the apostles understood that while, at the death of Christ, the middle wall of partition, which had heretofore separated divine favor from other nations, was now broken down, so that, so far as God was concerned, the Gospel message was open to every creature,--nevertheless, that every creature had not open ears for the Gospel, and that according to the Lord's plan he would not open their ears until his due time, the Millennial age, and hence it was that the apostles sought for the class to whom the present message, the high calling for the Church, was intended,--"He that hath an ear, let him hear."
Pursuing this policy of searching for those who had ears to hear, the Apostle Paul, sent by the Lord to be the great messenger of grace to the Gentiles, did not say within himself (as some of our dear missionary friends seem to say within themselves), I will seek out the most illiterate and degraded people in the world, that I may lift them up. Had this been the Apostle's sentiment he doubtless would have hastened, with his coadjutors, southward from Jerusalem into darkest Africa, or eastward from Jerusalem into India, with its hundreds of millions, and still further eastward into China, with its hundreds of millions, in utter ignorance of God and steeped in superstition. [R2691 : page 266] But the Apostle had made a better study of the divine plan, and knew that the times of restitution, the Millennial age, was set apart by God for this general uplift of mankind; and that it would be a waste of effort to undertake to do that work in advance of God's cooperation; in advance of his time and in advance of his arrangements, which his wisdom foresaw would be necessary to the accomplishment of that work.
The Apostle reasoned, on the contrary, "God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31), and that appointed day is a future day, the Millennial day; and if God has appointed that day to be the time for the world's judgment, it would be folly on my part to attempt to bring in a judgment of the world sooner than God intends it, even if I were able to do so. He reasoned, further, that if God has appointed a future day for judging the world in general, then the world in general is not on trial or under judgment in the present Gospel day, and hence might just as well be left in their heathen darkness a little longer, as God already had left them in heathen darkness for more than four thousand years;--and he reasoned wisely, logically. He was instructed of the Lord, and hence he had the spirit of a sound mind, and did not attempt to do an utterly impossible and hence a foolish thing. He did not attempt to be either wiser or more loving than the Heavenly Father, but trusting to the Heavenly Father's wisdom and love he sought to know the will of God now, in this present age, that he might thus be an ambassador for God and a co-worker together with him.
Nor was he left in darkness. He was instructed of the Lord, and he in turn instructs us, that the work of the present age is the work of preparing the judges of the world, who, when the great day of the world's judgment or trial shall have dawned, will be prepared to execute judgment and justice in the world, and to bless with a righteous rule all the families of the earth. He informs us that the saints now being tried (judged), tested and developed in character are undergoing this severe process, and are required to walk in the "narrow way," to the intent that they may be fit to be instruments of God for judging the world in righteousness when the due time for that judgment shall have come. (1 Cor. 6:2,3.) Consequently, we find that the Apostle's energies, so far from being directed to the substratum of society, the heathen and the barbarians, were directed to the very opposite class. He sought the best people in the world; the most moral people and the most intelligent; the people most advanced in every sense of the word--believing, and rightly, that the reasonable and gracious plan of God would commend itself better to such than to the sodden and benighted and stupefied and degraded minds of the barbarian heathen. Conservatively, the Apostle first sought the intelligent classes of Asia Minor, and after having gone through various cities (not attempting nor expecting to convert the people en masse, but merely hoping, in harmony with the divine program, to find a few, a little flock, and to establish these in principles of righteousness and in the School of Christ, to learn of him and to develop character, and to be prepared for the future work of judgeship and joint-heirship with Christ in the Kingdom)--the Apostle pressed on to find still others who had "ears to hear."
The declaration of the Scriptures is that he and his company purposed to go into Asia, but that under divine providence he seemed to be hindered from going there, and that then God specially directed him in a dream, and sent him into Europe with the message --sending him, not to barbarians, but to the most enlightened and most cultured people of the then civilized world, the people of Greece. (Acts 16:7-10.) And we remember that later on the Lord sent the Apostle to Rome, telling him in advance that this was his purpose, and seemingly in order to keep the Apostle in Rome he was sent there a prisoner, yet for three years was permitted to have full liberty to preach Christ to as many as had ears to hear. And let us not forget a circumstance which occurred in connection with the journey to Rome, when the Apostle was shipwrecked on the Island of Mileta. (Acts 28:1-10.) He found there a people who, so far as we are able to judge, were on the average better prepared for the truth than the Chinese, Malays, etc., and of these the record says, "The barbarians showed us no little kindness." We might suppose that barbarians who were disposed to be kind and generous to people who were shipwrecked on their coast, would be a rather more favorable class to approach with the gospel of Christ than cannibals, to whom missionaries of to-day frequently go.
And yet what do we find as the result of the Apostle's stay in the midst of that people all that winter? Do we read that he left several flourishing little missions? Do we read that he preached day and night unto the barbarians? Not a word of it; no mention is made of the slightest effort to reach them. The Apostle seemingly knew that they were too degraded to have any ear to hear the Christian message, or to be called with the high calling which God during this age is sending forth, to gather the Bride for his Son. We have every reason to believe that the Apostle made no effort whatever to make known the Gospel of Christ to those heathen people. Quite possibly while he was there forcibly detained in their midst, and unable to reach those who would have an ear to hear the good [R2691 : page 267] tidings, he may have attempted to suggest to them certain moral reforms, or how to live more comfortably, or something else that would come within the range of their measure of intelligence. But apparently he had no thought whatever that the gospel "High Calling" was for such, and hence the Golden Rule, operating in his life and governing his conduct, was limited accordingly--limited to act in harmony with the divine revelation and the divine plan.
Why is it that the example of Jesus and his inspired apostles is overlooked by so many of our dear Christian friends to-day? Why is it that they use their Golden Rule without respect to the divine plan and divine promise? We answer, It is because some of them are leaning to their own understanding, instead of seeking the divine Word, and to be taught of God; they think they know what ought to be done without inquiring of God's Word, and they are going about to do what they think should be done, rather than seeking to follow heaven's directions and Apostolic example. Many of them, indeed, are not self-conceited to the extent of being careless respecting advice; indeed, many of them are quite lacking in thought on their own part, and only too willing and too anxious to take advice of others; but they are not sufficiently careful where they get the advice.
They say to themselves, We belong to the Presbyterian body: look at its millions; look at its education; look at its influence. Or, We belong to the Methodist body: look at its numbers, influence, etc., etc. The same is true of the others. And then they ask, Is it possible that all these wise and learned men should be mistaken? Do they not all advocate that we should thus go out to preach the gospel amongst the heathen? Yes, we answer; this is a part of the delusion: many of the great and worldly-wise have adopted a theory, and are attempting to operate the Golden Rule wholly outside of and in utter neglect of the divine plan. Their theory is that God's Kingdom has come, and they point to the civilized nations of Europe and America as evidences and proofs that God's Kingdom has come, and they say, What all zealous Christians should now do is to convert the Chinese nation, the Japanese nation, India, and all the tribes of the earth, that these also may become Christian nations like those of Europe and America, and thus the whole world will become God's Kingdom.
But we answer, This is false, utterly false; the nations of Europe and America are not God's Kingdom, notwithstanding the fact that they claim to be Christian nations, and that they put upon their coins that their monarchs reign by the grace of God. They are all, at best and at most, "kingdoms of this world," under the control of Satan, "the prince of this world." (John 14:30.) These are the kingdoms which at the advent of Christ's Kingdom he declares shall be broken in pieces as a potter's vessel, as being utterly unfit for his service, and utterly out of harmony with the principles of righteousness which will be established in his Kingdom.--Rev. 2:26,27; Dan. 2:45.
Alas! if these kingdoms of so-called Christendom be the fulfilment of our dear Redeemer's prayer which he taught us as his disciples, "Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven"-- if we must accept these as God's Kingdom, if we must think of their rule as being God's will done on earth as it is done in heaven--then some of us are greatly disappointed, for we find that God's will is very little done on earth, and consequently heaven, if no better than this, must be a pandemonium in comparison to what we had hoped for.
But we are not mistaken; the Lord's Word everywhere teaches that the present Gospel age is for the selection of the Kingdom class, the saints, who by and by, in God's due time, shall be joint-heirs with Christ in his Kingdom, and inheritors with him of the great promises made to Father Abraham, that this seed, Christ (head and body--Gal. 3:16,29), shall bless all the families of the earth, as God's Kingdom bringing in everlasting righteousness. Would to God that we could assist to some extent in opening the blinded eyes of Christendom on this subject: and yet we could not hope to render any assistance to the general mass of churchianity,--for it is the divine plan that not the "tares," but only the "wheat," shall now understand. --Dan. 12:10; 1 Thes. 5:3-5.
All we can hope for is that those who are the Lord's true saints are not, and never have been, fully [R2692 : page 267] satisfied with the position in which they are, and the work which they are doing; but realize a heart-hunger for something better, more satisfactory, and more in harmony with the divine character and power--that these who have ears, and who have already heard to some extent the true gospel, might now hear the true ring of the Shepherd's voice, and thus be called away from Babylon and its confusion of error, its jargon of contradiction and insincerity, to the green pastures and still waters of divine truth--present truth--that thus separated (delivered from Babylon's bondage) they might be more fully united with the Shepherd himself, and become co-workers together with God in his work, learning to exercise the Golden Rule in their own hearts, in their own lives, and to help others of the household of faith and the Bride of Christ to do the same.
Nor are we to overlook the fact that while the present Gospel message is for the highest types of men, it appeals specially to the middle class of these --the humble but intelligent rather than the rich or great. "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight."--Matt. 11:25,26.